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by Mark Zalewski
March 11, 2017
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Simon Yates solos to Paris-Nice stage win; Sagan wins uphill field sprint at Tirreno-Adriatico; Team Sky and the mystery of the exploding wheels at Tirreno-Adriatico; Report into British Cycling to confirm a ‘culture of fear’; Brailsford has no intention of quitting Team Sky; Longo Borghini alters schedule to race Ronde van Drenthe; Bouhanni to race Nokere Koerse; New stage race set for South Africa in early 2018; USA Cycling moves cyclocross nationals back to December date for 2018; WADA could add caffeine to prohibited list; 2017 Paris-Nice: Stage 6 highlights; One-Legged BMXer Julián Molina shreds harder than you.
Team Sky’s hopes of a high finish in the team time trial at this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico were shattered — quite literally, in fact — when not one, but three riders suffered dramatically catastrophic front wheel failures on the 22.7km-long route around Lido di Camaiore. While the team managed to finish, it placed deep in the rankings at 18th, 1:42 down on stage winner BMC, and raised plenty of questions in the process about the structural integrity of its PRO three-spoke aero wheels.
Team leader Geraint Thomas said in a post-race interview that all three riders had hit potholes shortly before the wheel failures. Even with the greater loads time trial bikes place on the front wheel, though, such common impacts shouldn’t have produced that result. Moreover, the three-spoke PRO carbon fiber wheels used by Sky have been available since 2014 with no well-known major incidents, suggesting that the Sky riders either hit something much harder than is typical or received a batch of flawed wheels. Notably, the BMC team also rode the same make and model of front wheel that day with no issues.
As expected, PRO has released only cursory statements on the subject, saying that it would reserve final judgment until more information is available.
“PRO is continuing its investigation into the issue we saw with Team Sky at the team time trial of Tirreno-Adriatico. We are continuing to look closely into all factors that could cause the incident. During production, the three-spoke wheel passed PRO’s extremely high internal quality control and ISO/UCI standards. PRO’s three-spoke wheel was introduced in 2014 and has a flawless record, achieving countless time trial victories since, including BMC’s team time trial win in the same stage.”
Either way, such total disintegration does call into doubt some of the testing requirements put in place by the sport’s governing body.
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